"Dreamlife" Exhibit - Artist Interviews Series Two

By Roxanne Phillips 

We proudly present our second in a series of interviews with artists whose works are featured in our new virtual gallery exhibit--exclusively online--presented by Art Saint Louis, "Dreamlife" (May 1-July 1, 2021) and featuring 45 original artworks by 43 STL regional artists.

We proudly introduce you to featured artists Angela L. Chostner and Rufus Ferguson.


Featured in Art Saint Louis' virtual gallery exhibit, “Dreamlife”: Angela L. Chostner, Creve Coeur, MO. “Collective Imagination.” 2021. Acrylic on Canvas, Felted Wool, Fossils, Crystals, Clay, Agate, Wood, 48”x36” on 7 canvases. $1,500 unframed.
Artist’s statement: “If dreams embolden anything in us, let it be the seeds of imagination, sewn into our waking life. Afterall, dreams are a playground for the imagination, a source of new perspectives, inspiration and a place where the collective unconscious drops hints on ways to improve our world. This painting is a reflection of how dreams are brought to life through our combined use of imagination.”

Roxanne Phillips: Is making art more like coming up with a recipe for dinner or actually cooking dinner?
Angela L. Chostner: Making art is not about creating a recipe, nor about the act of preparing, although assuredly, preparation is vital to the outcome. To me, making art is more akin to the experience of eating dinner...a feast before you, full of unexpected flavors and combinations that tickle the senses. Then there is the slow, steady process of digestion and the understanding of how this act sustains life… for to live we must eat, and of all things we chose to digest, I chose that which fills me with wonder and purpose. To savor both the familiar salt and surprising sweet is grounded in the knowledge that my body will know when the process is complete, and it is time to step away from the table.

Artist Angela L. Chostner in her home studio.

RP: If you're having trouble making a piece what do you do?
ALC: I do not think in terms of trouble, only flow. If I am at a standstill with a painting, I step away, and ask three questions: 1) Have I gone deep enough in my understanding? 2)Has the chatter of my mind been too loud, making the voice of my heart too hard to hear? 3)Is it time to pause and allow space for what comes next in the process to arrive?

Angela L. Chostner. "Clarity." 2018. Acrylic on Canvas with Quartz Crystals, Carnelian and Amethyst, 40"x60". NFS.

RP: Which color do you gravitate towards?
ALC: Oftentimes, followers of my work comment on the blues I use, and how the experience of them is so powerful in person. Blue is like a grounding color to me- deep, expressive, it holds weight.
Being that I never use pigment black in my paintings, my darkest tones come from the layering and mixing of many colors. Blue is essential to depth.

Angela L. Chostner. "Trust." 2017. Acrylic on Canvas, 72"x48". NFS.

RP: Biggest point of inspiration...
ALC: I am inspired by the human condition and the evolution of my own heart. The central mission of my work is to express the energy of virtue, and I arrive at what is needed for each painting in a myriad of ways. Here is an example from my painting, Respect- I saw a clear image of the energy pattern for this virtue, and to remember, drew it in the air with my finger. Deeper meaning came from a dream image I had  of a tribe that  honored women. The young women carried long sticks as symbols of their sovereignty. From this, I knew wood was an element to be included. The full title, "Respect: I see you, you see me, let us be mountains together” came from the understanding that the experience of respect is that of truly being seen.

Angela L. Chostner. "Honor & Redemption." 2019. Acrylic on Canvas with Citrine and Magnesite, 24"x48". $1,400.

Angela L. Chostner. "Respect: I see you, you see me, let us be mountains together." 2018.  Acrylic on Canvas with Lapis Lazuli, Wood Beads, Honeysuckle Branch, Remnant Canvas Strips from the Artist's Paintings Resilience, Forgiveness, Gratitude and Wisdom, 60"x40". NFS.

RP: What surprised you when recently working on a piece?
ALC: While working on my painting, “Collective Imagination”, I was surprised at how the relationship between each individual canvas would continually alter the whole. It was clear that to establish balance, an ongoing dialogue between the different elements had to occur. Cohesion comes from knowing we must stand alone, yet work together, the balance between what we need to care for ourselves, and each other. A certain amount of sensitivity towards others while maintaining our own integrity of purpose is required . If we can trust in the process, willingly invite wonder into our lives, imagination is there, ready to fill in the blanks in marvelous ways...

Angela L. Chostner. "Perseverance." 2020. Acrylic on Canvas with Clay and Reather, 30"x30". NFS.

RP: Does your art make people do a doubletake?
ALC: My work is like the experience of visiting a new world with a language that is familiar, yet different somehow.

For some, all they see is what is on the surface, perhaps the vibrant color, the size, or aesthetic quality. For others who know the language my paintings speak, they understand the nuance and connect on the deepest level.

Those who do the “doubletake” often do so upon experiencing my art in person for the first time. Drawn in by a detail that gives pause, be it the accompanying poems I write, a stone detail, or brush of color, there is an almost “Ah ha” moment I love to witness. It is as if I have created a new word, they instantly know the meaning and are delighted.

Angela L. Chostner. "Abundance." 2018. Acrylic on Canvas with Tooled Aluminum, Carnelian and Chryscolla, 48"x36". NFS.

Angela L. Chostner with an work in progress.

RP: On what are you currently working?
ALC: I am working on a series entitled “Embrace: The gifts of community” that will be part of a solo exhibit in December 2021 at Longview Farm Park Art Gallery. This series is an exploration of the virtues that are vital to healthy community. A few of the paintings for this series include “Wisdom Reimagined” and “Perseverance.”

St. Louis-based artist Angela L. Chostner with her artwork.

Learn more about Angela L. Chostner: www.AngelaLChostnerArt.com and www.instagram.com/achostner/ and www.facebook.com/AngelaLChostner


Featured in Art Saint Louis’ “Dreamlife”: Rufus Ferguson, St. Louis, MO. “Sometimes a Banana (is an alien spaceship transforming your former self to a distant galaxy).” 2021. Mixed Media, Paint, Collage on Window, 32”x34”. $150.
Artist’s statement: “My perspective as a dreamer allows me to express myself in a manner that conventional wisdom may not recognize. The pieces of artwork submitted here are literally from dreams.  Much of my work is of landscapes and scenarios from dreams and scenarios that I have dreamed.  When dreaming we believe in the reality of dreams. My hope is that viewers can believe in the possibility of their own dreams.“

Roxanne Phillips: When do your best ideas come to you?
Rufus Ferguson
: The best ideas come while I’m dreaming or running, which if you run long enough is like dreaming. Sometimes my cat gives me good ideas.

Rufus Ferguson "Conejo drinking from silver lake; fox and robot holding hands." 2018. Mixed Media: Paint Collage on Window, 34 ½”x36 ½”. NFS. Collection of La Mancha Coffehouse.

RP: If you’re having trouble making a piece what do you do? 

RF: Put it on the shelf. Sometimes when you put some distance between yourself and a project you come back later and it’s obvious what needs to be done.

Rufus Ferguson. "La Noche de Walpurgis." Mixed Media: Paint Collage on Window, 34”x34”. $150.

RP: What color infuriates you... and towards which color do you gravitate? 

RF: I like bright colors and fluorescent colors. I’m not really into brown, however, now that I’ve said that I feel like I should do a brown series.

Rufus Ferguson "Big Blue Nose or The existential pain of the consciousness of death" - 2020 - Mixed Media: Paint Collage on Window. NFS. Collection of Joshua Grigaitis.

RP: Of all the materials you work with, which smells the best?

RF: I actually like the smell of spray paint. My nose doesn’t work so well, so maybe it’s just because it’s something I can actually smell.

Rufus Ferguson "Void 4.1 Oh What a Tangle." 2021. Mixed Media: Paint Collage on Window, 17”x52”. $150.

RP: When working on a piece when is it most enjoyable, the beginning, in the middle or the final moment?
RF: The actual doing of the thing is most enjoyable. There’s like a chemical reaction in the brain.

Rufus Ferguson "Silver Mongoose attempts to whisper secrets to Narcissus." 2021. Mixed Media: Paint Collage on Window, 26”x20”. $125.

RP: What is it people don’t understand about your artwork?

RF: Umm. Why do I use windows? 

Rufus Ferguson "Only You." 2019. Mixed Media: Paint Collage on Window, 30”x32”. NFS. Collection of Scott Carey.

RP: Is making art more like coming up with a recipe for dinner or actually cooking dinner? 

RF: Definitely more like cooking dinner.

RP: Do you ever wonder about your artwork once it leaves your hands? 

RF: This is a good question. Yes. I have a friend, Frank Booker, who buys artwork from me and then gives it away to random people that he thinks might enjoy it. So I do wonder sometimes if the art has found a good home.

RP: Do you prefer to make one specific piece or a series of pieces? 

RF: Each piece is a standalone piece, however, there might be a theme to several, for instance I was doing a blue series – several paintings that are about blue. I just finished up a black series and I’m just beginning a banana series.

Artist Rufus Ferguson at work in the studio.

RP: One what are you currently working? 

RF: Trying to figure how to work bananas into a painting about haystacks.

St. Louis area artist Rufus Ferguson.

Learn more about Rufus Ferguson: www.dingo8.com
Roxanne Phillips
is an artist and art educator based in St. Louis since 2001. She earned a MFA in Printmaking & Drawing from Washington University in St. Louis and BFA in Painting & Drawing from University of North Texas. Roxanne is an adjunct art instructor at Washington University in St. Louis and has worked with Art Saint Louis since 2017 as Administrative Assistant and Installer. From 2018-2020 she was Master Printer for Pele Prints. Her works have been featured in numerous exhibitions throughout the St. Louis region including at Art Saint Louis, Crossroads Art Studio & Gallery, and St. Louis Artists’ Guild. Her work is currently available at Union Studio in St. Louis. She has served as exhibit Juror for several regional exhibits & art fairs. Roxanne is past Board member of St. Louis Women’s Caucus for Art.